Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Indie vs. Traditional Publishing, One Year Later

On July 18, 2011, I wrote my first blog post on the debate between indie publishing and the traditional publishing model. One year later, the conversation continues. Just this week, Joe Konrath discussed how e-book sales between traditional and indie published authors are not a zero sum game. Meanwhile, successful indie author Lindsay Buroker asked, “Is it Harder Today for Self-published Authors to ‘Break’ in at Amazon?” And the Passive Guy (quoting from an article on The Fictorian Era) posted portions of an interview with author Brandon Sanderson, who suggests both forms of publishing have their merits and their place.

Is traditional vs. Indie Publishing still like the Battle of Agincourt?
Although the conversation between these two publishing alternatives has persisted over the past year, I sense it’s becoming a less contentious debate. It’s no longer like the Battle of Agincourt – a bloody war between one viewpoint or another. Instead, I’m finding it a more reasoned discourse. So while it’s clear to me the world is still changing, both forms of publishing seem to have their merit, and whether one is better than the other may depend on the author’s personal situation, his or her financial means (because indie publishing done right can involve a substantial out-of-pocket spend for an editor, cover art, etc.), and his or her goals.

But let me know what you think – is the debate between indie and traditional publishing still a war, or has it become merely a dialogue about two equally viable publishing paths?


Kai St. Claire said...

I agree with you on this. The debate between these topics is becoming more about which is better (or more like a popularity contest, in my opinion).

To me, I think traditional publishing is striking down too hard on authors nowadays. You have to be absolutely perfect and must suit their needs. Shouldn't it be about the readers? I have just found way too many wrongs in the traditional route, but the self-publishing route also scares me because I'd be alone. And I don't want to spend money that I don't even have.

Mary Vettel said...

Hi Joseph, Good question. I think it's less a battle now, maybe just less heated. Having tried the traditional route to publication (landing a great agent who loves my book first) for a while, I gave in and self-pubbed on Amazon's Kindle Direct w/o laying out a penny. Just hours of angst and hi-tech envy. Now it's all on my shoulders to sell it and it's scary not having a big house to back me, but I'm glad I did it. I agree w/Kai in that for some of us it seems the hoops are too high for us to jump through (esp. the flaming ones), while others get a pass. I'll check back in a year and let you know.

Joseph Finley said...

Kai and Mary,

Thanks for the comments! I think the wonderful thing about this new world is that authors have a choice about which way to proceed. I completely understand the reasons why a writer would want to go indie, especially since fewer books are being published the traditional way. Also, the number of hoops (flaming or otherwise) that one must jump through for traditional publishing, combined with the subjective nature of the decision making process among agents (or their interns) and publishers along the way, makes the indie route very appealing. Not to mention the difference in timing: 12 to 24 months to get a book published traditionally, versus far less than that for indie.

I've been wondering about whether to make this a more substantive post, but I’ll spill the beans here, thanks to your comments: I have decided to go the indie route. After a year or so of thought, I've convinced myself that traditional publishing may not be the best for me. As Kai noted, traditional publishers are striking down hard on authors and I, as a practicing attorney at a law firm, could probably never meet a traditional publisher's schedule or marketing demands, assuming I ever made it through the months -- or years -- long process to get there.

So, I hired a great editor (a person who has edited some famous authors in my genre) and he's done a fantastic job. I'm still working through the edits, but the next step will be to hire a cover designer. While I've chosen the indie route, I still believe the traditional route is good for many folks, and I have several writer friends who have done well, at least with small press. So, in this sense, I really believe there may not be a bad choice, but which choice may be best probably depends on one’s individual circumstance. The amazing, thing, however, is that a few years ago, there would have been no choice. That’s no longer true. And that’s a very good thing!

Mary Vettel said...

Great news, Joseph. I wish you much success!